Tip # 2 – Your Pencil Sharpener is your new best friend.

Turtle Shell -Graphite on Stonehenge Paper -Mindy Lighthipe © 1999

As a kid I used the dinky little plastic pencil sharpeners that you can find just about anywhere. They never did give me a very good point and most of the time I couldn't find them. They were usually somewhere in my room, probably knocked around by my cat and nestled in a dust bunny on the floor.

As a botanical art instructor I still see my students bringing those dinky little plastic pencil sharpeners to class and boy do I hate seeing them. They are the reason for so many fuzzy lines, scratchy tone, uneven coverage and clumsy details. I have seen people use a knife and sandpaper to whittle their pencils into a point. I am afraid I would take off a finger or two if I had to sharpen a pencil that way.

I know a lot of artists that use a mechanical pencil and the "special" mechanical pencil sharpener. I used to use one myself, but not anymore. The sharpener has no way of sealing the opening of the receptacle. I always end up with graphite dust everywhere and it makes a huge mess. The point is great but it is not worth the mess it makes.

I have gone to art stores and bought a few fancy pencil sharpeners but NOTHING COMPARES to my Panasonic KP-4A Battery operated pencil sharpener. It takes 4 – AA batteries and it gives me a point that can pierce the skin. The batteries last a long time, an average of 6-9 months or longer depending on how often you use it. It is easy to travel with. One year, while traveling in Costa Rica I met some local people who were had never seen such a great pencil sharpener. I traded the sharpener for a rhinoceros beetle.

I recommend that if you want the best pencil sharpener at a reasonable price you consider the Panasonic KP-4A. It can be used with graphite, charcoal, colored, and pastel pencils.